January Thaw

January 10, 2008

But when he had seen again the face of this world, enjoyed water and sun, warm stones and the sea, he no longer wanted to go back to the infernal darkness. (Albert Camus)

This line from The Myth of Sisyphus came to me this morning as I gently tooled my golf cart down the rows of next year’s walnut seedlings. The sun feels fresh and a little strange on one’s face at this time of year, but it’s a pleasant strangeness. It indicates that the long night of November is finally over. After this thaw winter may bluster and blow, but we know that its anger is a ruse: whatever it throws at us will soon melt away because the sun is ascending more steeply each day. A look at the buds shows they are already much larger than they were last fall.

The melting snow has revealed the net of mouse-burrows which seem to have covered every square yard of the walnut fields, yet so far no saplings show signs of hurt.

The coyote’s footprints in the old snow are close together, with many small detours. He’s walking his route, paying careful attention to the activity below.

The huge wind yesterday took down a white ash on a fence-row below the house. This news provides an excuse for a visit to my neighbour, so I shoot down the road on my golf cart, drawing broad grins from the guys on the loading dock at Baker’s Feeds. They’re enjoying the sun this morning, as well. Grant Stone’s working on a chain saw’s carburetor, and seems inclined to take the tree for firewood as soon as the field is frozen enough to support a tractor, so I head out of the cozy workshop and make my way back up Young’s Hill.

The gods condemned Sisyphus to roll a rock up a hill for all of eternity. Camus insisted that Sisyphus’ rock, intended to be his punishment, was also his victory. In order for him to suffer the gods had to make him aware, and in his awareness came his victory. In those moments of quiet reflection as he walked down the hill to once again resume his pointless task, Sisyphus was happy.

I parked the cart. Inside the house my vacuum cleaner awaited me.

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